Real life pop rocks

Imagine you are just walking around the solid rock under your feet starts to crackle and then POP as pieces fly apart. This doesn’t normally happen.

A big chunk of the Sierra Nevada caught fracturing on video | Ars Technica.

One interesting way that rocks weather and crumble apart is called “exfoliation.” Like the skin-scrubbing technique, this involves the outermost layers of exposed igneous or metamorphic bedrock sloughing off in a sheet.

Typically, you can observe the results of this type of weathering, but it’s not every day that you can catch it in the act. For some reason (and to the delight of curious geologists), an outcrop of granite alongside the dam that forms Twain Harte Lake in California has recently begun exfoliating vigorously.

Watch the video

The dome of granite is exfoliating and will eventually have a smooth, rounded appearance. Unfortunately, this outcrop is near a dam and surface damage is occurring. Technology has been installed to monitor the activity which comes in bursts as stress is relieved in the rock. It’s not known how long it will last. It’s also not known if this is going on elsewhere in the world. But I have to wonder what this looks like at night and if it emits lights (like a Life Saver candy cracked with a hammer) in a piezoelectric effect.

More on exfoliation, part of the process that turns rock eventually into sand, grain by grain.

Exfoliating rock face

Exfoliating rock face

Tip: Tim Farley

  2 comments for “Real life pop rocks

  1. Bill T.
    September 15, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    This could be the coolest thing I see for at least the next week. I have seen the results of this process many times, to see it in action, I can’t express my feelings.

  2. Bill T.
    September 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

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